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Brut nature vs zéro dosage

Jiles Halling, via email, asks: What’s the difference between ‘brut nature’ and ‘zéro dosage’?

Tim Hall replies: The ambiguity has arisen because Champagne does not distinguish between, let alone add up, the sugar in the dosage and what might already be in the bottle before disgorgement.

The official sweetness bands, and any precise value on a back label, denote the strength of the dosage liqueur, calculated, measured and confirmed before being squirted into each bottle before the cork.

Brut nature, the official term (technically 0-3g/L of sugar), means no sugar added but there may be some residual, which is ‘natural’.



Many people, such as Decanter writer Michael Edwards, think it slightly nebulous but I like the term – but that does not take away the fact that 99% of people who drink Champagne know nothing about dosage or the various terms for it.

Edwards prefers ‘non-dosé’, but I think it sounds medicinal and tells no one exactly what a dose is – or, in this case, not.

Brut zéro/zéro dosage is also ambiguous – effectively a lie because there is always a gram or so of residual sugar not fermented out, as without it you cannot make Champagne.

I quite like ‘Ultra Brut’, but I am sure Laurent- Perrier registered the name long ago.

Tim Hall is a Champagne specialist who is director of wine tour and event company Scala Wine. Edited for Decanter.com by Ellie Douglas.

 

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